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Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Mamie Clark

Mamie Phipps was born October 18, 1917, in Hot Springs. While studying math and physics at Howard University, she met psychology student Kenneth Clark, leading her to change her major; they married in 1937.

Mamie Clark earned her master’s in psychology with a thesis focusing on an experiment in which she presented African American children with a Black doll and a white doll to see which they picked. She found that Black children “became aware of their racial identity at about age three, and—simultaneously with their awareness of racial identity—acquired a negative self image.” This research helped in the Brown v. Board of Education case declaring that integrated schools cause “a feeling of inferiority” in Black students.

She went on to earn a doctorate at Columbia and with her husband established a Harlem center offering psychological help for poor Black children. Dr. Clark’s work with minority youths ushered in new approaches to treatment. She died in 1983.

You can read the entire Encyclopedia of Arkansas entry at encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/mamie-katherine-phipps-clark-2938.

Mark Christ produces and hosts Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute on KUAR. He is head of adult programming for the Central Arkansas Library System. He previously served as community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, which he joined in 1990 after eight years as a journalist.